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Environmental Concerns Over Fracking Could Push For The Need To Re-Open St. Croix Refinery

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Former HOVENSA refinery on the South Shore

OPEN IT UP

The glut of crude oil in the U.S. could see the reopening of an oil refinery that’s been closed for three years, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Alison Sider.

The HOVENSA refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands was one of the largest in the U.S. before being shut down.

A global economic slowdown in 2008 cut into demand for fuel, and the plant could no longer compete with newer, more efficient refineries. HOVENSA on paper recorded $1.3 billion in losses in the three years before it closed.

Now, the amount of crude being produced in the U.S. means that the refinery—which used to process Venezuelan oil—could make economic sense again.

The game changer has been oil from shale formations, which have propelled the U.S. toward the very top of the global producer rankings over the past five years.

CLOSE IT DOWN  

But, the Financial Times writes, passions surrounding fracking in the U.S. are mounting.

The rush to extract more shale oil and gas is seeing rural towns and city suburbs groomed as drill sites, “where horrified residents say fracking is anything but clean,” writes Barney Jopson.

One reason fracking has been so possible in the U.S. is the large tracts of uninhabited space available for drill rigs, and spanning areas of oil- and gas-rich geology.

But the need for new fields has brought the operations closer to home for many Americans. The FT cites one recent meeting of angry residents in Colorado to illustrate the problem.

The fracking fracas is causing faction friction in U.S political circles. Within the Democrats, for example, the antifracking lobby is squaring up to the moderate, pro-business wing.

Republicans’ aggressive support for fracking, meanwhile, may be losing them votes in the areas that go from urban or rural neighborhood to drilling heartland.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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